One of Canada’s most notorious thieves was tackled and arrested in Whistler this week after trying to steal a $12,500 glass sculpture.
Darryl Vincent, 67, swanned into Plaza Galleries with a male accomplice Tuesday and tried to make off with a glass violin under his trademark trenchcoat.
"We were watching him because the other gentleman that he came in with was asking us silly questions like the price of something that had the tag right on it," said Anne-Marie Little, co-owner of the art store.
"There was just a bad feeling, and the larger trench coats we always watch anyway."
When Vincent took off out the door Little and sales clerk Alejandro Alias followed.
"We wanted to get the sucker, to be honest," said Little who had just learned on the Internet that Vincent stole his own wife’s wedding dress and ring and has spent one third of his life behind bars.
Previous news articles on Vincent tell of a life-long addiction to stealing, including six Group of Seven paintings stolen from the University of Toronto in 1987.
He would use the proceeds of his crimes to fund an exclusive international lifestyle.
"He was so close it just seemed a shame to let him go and then you are just on a list of people who have been stolen from and you never have a chance to do anything," said Little explaining why they made the decision to go after Vincent.
Alias tackled Vincent, who started to shed clothes in an attempt to get away.
"He was able to pull out of (the trenchcoat) and then pull off his shirt so he only had pants on," said Little. "Very brazen."
Vincent, well known to police nationally and internationally as polite, debonair and charming, appeared in court yesterday in North Vancouver facing charges of theft over $5,000. He is a resident of Ontario and awaiting separate trials in both Montreal and Toronto. In addition Vincent is on probation.
Whistler RCMP noted that Vincent would not have been arrested if not for the actions of Little and Alias.
But added Sgt. Marc Levergne: "The police warn that citizens should not attempt to stop individuals who are in the middle of a criminal act."
The police files on Vincent are thick with tales of his thefts – most of which seem to put him behind bars. His criminal record goes back 45 years, with most of his thefts involving high-end goods.
He told the Toronto Star newspaper in January that he was a kleptomaniac. One defence lawyer quoted in the article described him as the "Gordie Howe of criminals."
Little hopes that this incident will put Vincent behind bars and she questions how he is even out walking the street.
"I question why he is not in jail already," she said.
"What is with our judicial system?
"At least we were able to apprehend him so he is not able to steal from anyone else in Whistler. It is very frightening that someone would be that brazen.
"I am just glad he is off the streets.
"I plan to follow up and make sure he is kept off the streets."